Bestselling philosopher de Botton (How Proust Can Change Your Life), whose nonfiction tackles life’s big questions, traces the intricate and winding path of a long-term relationship in his second novel. Rabih Khan, from Beirut, and Kirsten McClelland, from Scotland, meet and fall in love. De Botton outlines the contours of a love that endures yet inevitably evolves over the years, through Rabih’s sudden proposal, the birth of their two children, and the act and consequences of adultery. The story of Rabih and Kirsten is interspersed—on almost every page—with de Botton’s italicized manifesto of universal truths about love and romance, such as “Love is a search for completion.” As readers watch Rabih and Kirsten work, fight, make love, and take risks, de Botton does something interesting: he will rewind a scene, usually an argument, and play it again to illustrate how loving, mature people should react, rather than how they typically do. At points, de Botton seems distant from his characters, as if they were created to illustrate his beliefs about love. But when Rabih and Kirsten are debating the details of petty humiliations and letdowns, they feel completely alive and real. The novel is a valuable commentary on the state of modern marriage and it reassures us that troubles are a normal, even necessary, part of the journey. Agent: Zoe Pagnamenta, Zoe Pagnamenta Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/09/2016 Release date: 06/14/2016 Genre: Fiction
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